The architecture of Los Angeles district police stations reflects different eras of policing there, says Governing magazine. The 1977-vintage central division station is a bunker–a massive, block-long structure in the heart of Skid Row. It was designed not so much to protect the surrounding community as it was to protect the police. Three decades later and six blocks north, a very different model of police-community interaction is on display: the recently completed $437-million police administration building. For the past eight years, the police department has been on a building spree, thanks to a $600-million construction bond approved by voters in 2002.
Nearly half of the department’s 21 stations have been replaced or built from scratch. New stations embody hopes for a new police relationship with local communities–one of transparency and cooperation. The result has been a profusion of architecturally avant-garde police stations unlike anything else in the country. To some, the new buildings come with a cost–the disappearance of the police station as a distinct and recognizable part of urban neighborhoods. Glynn Martin of the Los Angeles Police Historical Society says the newer stations often look like buildings that “could just as easily be filled with attorneys or accountants instead of L.A.’s finest.”